Iowa 4-H and Youth horse activities
4-H Horse and Pony ID
- 4-H animals will be identified by May 15th, and State Fair-eligible horses need photos uploaded into 4-H Online by May 15th.
- Read the 4-H 202 publication, “Iowa 4-H Livestock Show Requirements - Animal Identification, Weighing, and Exhibiting Requirements for County, State, and Interstate Shows”.
- An individual 4-H member must identify all animals. When registration papers are involved, the papers must be in the 4-H member’s name or show a logical family relationship.
- All animals are to be owned by the 4-H member. Counties may have sharing or leasing options for certain species and may require a leasing form (i.e., horse) or other paperwork. Check with your county extension office for these alternatives.
- A maximum of 5 heads can be identified.
- Animals cannot be identified under both 4-H and FFA.
- Animals can be identified by more than one 4-H member (immediate sibling or step-sibling only), but cannot be identified as 4-H under one sibling and FFA under another sibling.
- 4-H Online ID is required by May 15. ALL horses must upload photos into 4-H Online by May 15(county and state fair).
Horse Vibrant Club resources are designed as fun, informational activities for volunteer leaders to teach youth about the horse. The resources are practical building blocks for youth to investigate horse-related topics. In addition, the activities can be used for preparation to compete in the annual Hippology and Horse Quiz Bowl contests.
Horse Quiz Bowl is an exciting opportunity for youth to showcase their horse knowledge in a competitive, jeopardy-like contest. This contest involves a series of questions that are asked either of a specific individual or a team. Participants use a buzzer system to ‘buzz’ in first and answer questions. These questions might be a regular question, toss-up, or bonus, depending on the half of the play. Various subject areas are covered: general equine terms, the horse industry, feeding and care, and anatomy.
Competition in horse judging allows you to be the judge of a horse show. You will learn all the body parts of a horse, the ideal characteristics of how a horse moves, and determine how to score horses in competition. And to explain how you decided on your scores. When you get to the senior level of this activity, you could compete in national competitions.
The judging contest is a learning experience where youth judge classes of four horses. Youth carefully evaluate horses in a class and place them against an accepted ideal for the breed or discipline shown. The contest provides an educational program for all project members, including those who may not own a project animal.
Hippology is the study of horses. Learning hippology means learning about horse anatomy and physiology, history and origins, diseases, parasites, reproduction, the horse industry, horse management, breeds, conformation, competitions horse perform in, genetics, colors, parts of the saddle, bridles and bits, types of bits, gaits, and nutrition.
For club leaders to use with youth interested in participating in a hippology event or contest.
Did you know the horse has one of the largest eyes of all mammals? Most prey animals, such as horses, have eyes set on the sides of their heads, allowing them to see predators approaching from many directions. Horses have excellent capability of seeing movement at a distance. When trail riding, a horse may see a deer run across the trail long before humans would see the deer.
Horses use both binocular and monocular vision. Binocular vision allows the horse to use both eyes to see directly ahead. However, their depth perception is limited because their eyes are so far apart. Monocular vision allows the horse to see on both sides of their heads, meaning the left and right eyes work independently and see different views.
This activity will introduce young people to the various appointments for working around and riding horses. Appointments are the equipment and clothing used in showing horses. The discipline (English or Western) will determine the type of attire the person wears and the type of tack the horse wears. Tack is equipment or accessories used while riding or working with a horse. Equipping a horse is often referred to as tacking up.
Communication to control the horse when you are riding is relayed by using your hands (rein aids), seat, legs, and voice. Most people place headgear (bridle) on the horse’s head with a bit in the horse’s mouth, and a saddle on the horse’s back. The bridle with a bit will apply pressure on and around the horse’s head and mouth in a variety of places, depending on the type used. The horse learns that pressure in a certain area means to slow down, stop, turn or change their head position.
This game teaches youth basic facts about feeding horses. Every animal requires feed to meet their nutritional requirements. Horses, like people, require water, energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals. These needs are met by providing hay, pasture, grain, and supplements to the horse.
Play the game by answering questions or identifying images related to feeding horses. A correct answer moves your horse to the finish line. Youth or groups should take turns selecting the question number to answer. Seven correct answers are required to cross the finish line first.
For an equine enthusiast, there are horse terms that are important and necessary for any horse and their handler to communicate with others in the equine industry. Play Horse Bingo to learn horse jargon by defining commonly used terms for describing, grooming, and showing horses in 4-H. Bingo is a fun game of chance played on a scorecard that’s made up of 25 squares — if you get 5 squares in a row, you win!
This game teaches youth some basic facts about horse care, colors, markings, tack, and riding classes. Horse care includes the basic needs of housing, nutrition, hygiene, and disease management. To use a horse for showing, one must identify the horse using colors and markings. In addition, youth need to know how to place the correct tack on the horses for riding or showing. Play the game by identifying images related to caring for and showing horses.
Communication uses natural aids to encourage the horse to execute an action. For example, you use your legs, hands, and seat to ask the horse to walk forward. Voice or talking to a horse is also a natural aid but not allowed in many show ring classes. Simon Says is a great activity to keep youth busy and active. Play Simon Says to learn about cues to communicate with horses.
Equine Extravaganza provides opportunities for all youth in grades 4 through 12 to share their knowledge of the equine industry through a variety of competitions and participatory events. Select opportunities are also open to young people in third grade. You do not need to be a member of 4-H to register. As a part of the event, a judge's clinic is also offered. This opportunity is for adults wanting to become certified or re-certified to judge at a county or regional equine shows in Iowa. The 2021 Extravaganza is scheduled for September 24-26 at the Ellsworth Community College Equestrian Center in Iowa Falls.
Makenzie Berkland will be presenting a 6-week course designed as an introduction to competitive horse judging while also providing youth with previous judging experience to brush up on the most common classes. We will cover Halter, Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, Horsemanship, Equitation, Ranch Horse classes, and Oral Reasons. Each evening, we will cover one or two of these topics in an interactive format with opportunities to ask questions. Participants will submit placings for classes that will be tracked throughout the series. Sessions will start Sunday, October 15th, from 6 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and run through November 19th.
Equine Blast is a program for 7th-12th grade students interested in equine science. The program focuses on real-world topics that impact the equine industry and youth. Students do not have to be enrolled in 4-H or own equine.